Data analysis isn’t just for technocrats

Data analysis is not just for technocrats, understanding it can make your business perform better
As we are all too painfully aware, SME owners are high on responsibilities, and short on time.

Whilst many well-intended meetings may be held with staff concerning bigger ideas for the business, most days are taken up with the tasks of keeping it running. This leaves owners with little time to step back and think about how to make it grow in the long-term.

But data-analysis is here to save SMEs from themselves! They are a route to better understanding your business, says Stuart Fullerton of White Space Consultancy. We sit down with Fullerton to talk all things ‘data intimate’. 

Analysing the numbers is not just about forecasts and budgets, it’s about good management practice and setting the right path for the future of your business. 

Why is understanding company data so important?

Both financial and non-financial data tells a story. They provide a valuable insight into your business and how it operates. Being able to stop just describing data and start transforming it into meaningful insight is what will make the difference to the future of a business.

What’s the first step?

An important first step is to start analysing the critical functions of the business. This means you are fully aware of the current status of the operations at the forefront of what you do.

More often than not this will shed light on some areas of your operation that require immediate change and will have a positive impact both on profitability and customer experience.

How will understanding the data encourage better business decisions?

With accurate financial and non-financial data, you will be better placed to make informed business decisions. This may seem obvious but too often day to day work just gets in the way of looking closely at those figures and the insight that it provides meaning the crucial detail gets missed.

Regular data and KPI analysis puts your mind at rest and monitors the progress you’re making. It means you are able to be proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to tackling issues. 

What are the additional benefits?

Oh, many! Firstly, you will be able to identify process inconsistencies and remove unnecessary financial costs.

You will also improve the accuracy and data in your management information reporting, and, be able to identify potential opportunities and threats and develop a plan of action and considered strategies that are practical to implement.

What should you include in your business action plan?

Ensure that you include timelines and milestones in your action plan, clearly communicate these to staff and build in tailored training for your staff, both to support the business in its growth and to provide them with the tools to deliver and track performance.

A motivated workforce will help to create a high-performance culture, making staff feel empowered to challenge the status quo and offer up suggestions that may have previously been overlooked.

Any data related advice in the run-up to Brexit?

With Brexit on the horizon and the uncertainty of a deal or no deal outcome, it’s a good time to start gathering data and undertaking a full business analysis to try to foresee and manage any impacts of the decision to your business.

Do you have a strategy in place or even started thinking about how Brexit will impact your business? Is there an issue in your business causing sleepless nights?

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